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Sunday, January 16, 2011

"But...I can use this bike!" Bike Crazy Part 3: The Carg-off

One of the reasons I jumped so eagerly at the Cycle Truck back in November was its affordability. It was clear to me that if I wanted a cargo bike, I had to shell out several thousand dollars or convert a bike to an Xtracycle, which would be cheaper, but by no ways cheap. So $400 for the Worksman Cycle Truck felt like a steal to me! And there would be no way that I would find anything that cheap again.

Then the other Steph decided to sell her cargo bike.

On an uneventful Saturday, the Other Steph (here to be referred to as "TOS") posted to the Shift list this baby:

And all for the price of $250.
AAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!! A Long John! That's the type of cargo bike I want!

But...I already have a "cargo bike!" What am I going to do? Buy another cargo bike? Have two? But it's only $250! But...

The only thing I could do to calm myself down was take a look at the bike. Only after a test ride would I know if this was something to covet, or if I should just move on.

So Thursday night I trekked to North Portland to have a look. The cargo bike was a "Frankenbike" build, meaning constructed from more than one bike, not purpose built. And it was pretty decent build! What a cargo capacity! But a test ride is in order.

Well, while the Cycle Truck is "somewhat awkward" at manoeuvering, the Long John was "hella awkward". For the first few blocks, every time I turned it felt like I was going to fall off the damn thing. I realized that it would be something that I would get used to, but at the time I just felt like getting off the damn thing. And as TOS warned, the bike felt small. I was in quite the forward position, putting a lot of weight on the handlebars. With a cargo bike, I'd want to feel as upright as possible.

And to hammer the nail into the coffin, a dog chased me while test riding it!* I took that as an omen, and decided to pass.

Someday my perfect affordably priced cargo bike will appear. Until then, I'll just dream. And be satisfied with the Cycle Truck!

Oh Cycle Truck, I won't let you down!

*For some reason, I've been chased by a few dogs lately.


  1. You show considerable restraint, sir.

    Cargo bike... $250... I probably would have bought it without even looking at it... because I'm that kind of idiot...

  2. I think I had the considerable restraint because of a couple reasons:

    1)Ishould be saving up for something more important (more on this in the coming months)(no, it's not a kid on the way!)

    2)In order to justify the purchase of the Cargobike, I would have needed to sell the Cycle Truck, which is something I didn't really want to do. Plus, it's hard selling a bike in winter, especially something as unique and esoteric as the Cycle Truck

  3. Just curious why you are looking for a separate cargo bike rather than a trailer? A decent used bike trailer can typically be picked up for $100 or less (I got my second one, a beater, for $5). Plus a trailer is easier to maintain than a whole 'nother bike, already weather proof (in the cargo space), lower center of gravity, stability of two side-by-side wheels, easier to ride with on ice and snow, etc.

    I know it's a trade-off in that a regular bike + trailer weighs a bit more (unloaded) and tracks wider than a cargo bike. But for me the benefits far outweigh the downside.

    Just my two cents based on my experience using trailers instead of cargo bikes. Of course I also have kids so the trailer doubles as passenger space. I had it anyway for this purpose alone.

    I actually have two trailers, and have considered making a hitch behind one so I could pull two at once (kids in one, cargo in the other). But so far that much space has been totally unnecessary.

  4. P. Voyageur--Thanks for asking!

    The short and snarky answer: trailers are fugly.

    The long answer:
    I like having the cargo up front. I like to be able to see the stuff. When I've used a trailer (and we do actually have a trailer as well!) I'm always worrying about something falling out, no matter how good I've strapped everything down. And yeah, there's the tracking/dead weight issues of the empty trailer, not to mention how it handles bumps.

    Trailers are definitely cheaper and easier to find, but I'm always drawn to a cool cargo bike. Doesn't help that I live in a city of cool cargo bikes. This might sound irrational, but who said I was rational all the time? ;-)

  5. Chacun à son goût (to each his own), regarding trailer vs. cargo bike.

    I totally think cargo bikes are awesome, I understand the appeal. I was just curious which specific reasons why some favour them over trailers.

    I should add that in a prairie city where I can ride for groceries several times a week for months on end almost never seeing another cyclist, there is little in the way of cycling sub-culture examples or expectations of style.

    So I likely undervalue style and asethetics, perhaps to the shame and embarrasment of the cycling community at large (if they ever see me that is)...


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